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Daylight was cheekily trying to seep in through the curtains. And succeeding. Surely it was not time to get up just yet. "Ugh." Richard Castle groaned, seemingly unable to keep one eye from opening; squinting at the blinding sunlight.

That eye was soon shut again. His head was pounding with some unknown force. If he didn't know any better he would have sworn he had been hit with a very blunt instrument and left to die. Perhaps a slight overexaggeration. Ugh, since when did thinking become such a chore?

This was a little concerning. The need for creativity (which involved high level thought processes) was integral to both his paid line of work and the more dangerous yet oh so more exciting occupation. Though whether it could actually be called an occupation was debatable; considering you had to be actually paid for it to be considered an occupation.

Have to get off this train of thought. He mused, It's all too much for this so-called genius mind to comprehend. Something resembling a chuckle escaped from his lips. He was surprised that these kind of words were seeping from his extensive vocabulary given how he felt at this very moment.

Everything just hurt. His throat burned with a fire he had never thought humanly possible; it was so intense. He had never found it hard to literally breathe; he wasn't asthmatic, he rarely got struck down with illness. But boy was he struggling now. His chest heaved with every rattling breath - often resulting in nasty, painful coughing fits that seemed to last forever.

The smallest movement of any limb ached to his very core. He never wanted to move again, yet this thought was immediately contradicted by his overwhelming need to toss and turn - unable to find a comfortable position.

No doubts about it. The one and only Richard Castle was sick.

 

*C&B*

 

Across town, his partner was groaning for an entirely different reason. Another body had dropped, disturbing Katherine Beckett from her much needed slumber. And this made her angry. Scarily so. An exhausted Beckett equated to a very very cranky (and crabby) Beckett.

She had only just finished wrapping up the monotonous paperwork from the previous case, which had been physically and emotionally draining. And now there was another one? She loved her job, she really did, and murder never stopped for anyone... but could it just this once?

Oh stop your whinging Katherine. Even her inner voice was sarcastic in its tone. You sound like a nine year old Castle.

"Oy that was harsh even for you girl." Since when did her conscience sound like Lanie? She massaged her forehead, feeling the beginnings of a headache forming. Hardly surprising given the lack of sleep she had had over the last week.

"Yeah maybe." Okay, I've officially gone nuts. Talking to an invisible Lanie?

"Damn right girl. Imma should spank you."

"Yeah alright Lanie. Geez." Why am I doing this? Have you lost your freaking mind?

"You know you're in love with Writer-Boy right?"

She rolled her eyes. "For crying out freaking loud. So?"

"When you gonna do somethin bout it girl?"

For the second time in a minute Kate rolled her eyes.

"Oh come on, you know you want him. You want to feel his heavenly lips on yours again... (and don't think Imma gonna forgive you for not telling me bout that one, you got some 'splanin to do) ... kissing you like there's no tomorrow. You want that feeling that only he can give you..."

"Stop!"

Exasperated, she threw her head under the pillows in a desperate bid to stop this totally insane conversation that she knew would only lead to... well naughty thoughts given her current location. Thinking about her best friend and ruggedly handsome partner was just not going to happen in her bed. Even if it has already happened countless times, more than she dared to admit.

Well at least she's gone. She could only blame her overwhelming sense of fatigue for what just happened.

Sneaking a look at the bedside clock, she cursed at the time that had elapsed. She very reluctantly slipped out from the warm covers (oh how she wanted to just stay there for the rest of her life). She stumbled to the bathroom, fumbling her way in the darkness, not bothering to turn on the lamp beside the bed. She had done this so many times she could walk through her bedroom blindfolded.

After a very quick shower (she didn't know why she even bothered, but she needed to feel somewhat alive), she got dressed. She deliberated on whether to make herself a much needed coffee, but figured that Castle would bring her a much much nicer one at the crime scene. And that thought was the only thing that kept her going at this point. It was becoming scary just how much she needed Castle around.

As she headed out the front door she called Castle. It surprised her a little that he was taking so long to answer. Okay, she knew it was early, but he was usually bursting at the seams when a body dropped. She bit down on her rising concern, rationalising that he had probably been up all night writing and was catching up on sleep.

"Castle call me when you get this. We got a body."

 

*C&B*

 

"Ugh. What now?" Something had interrupted his deep sleep. And he was not happy about it.

His phone was ringing. Loudly. Okay so it wasn't that loud, but the pounding in his head amplified the sound tenfold.

The theme for 'Wonderwoman' resonated across his bedroom. It was Beckett. So his choice of ringtone might be corny - and she would most likely kill him if she ever found out - but to him she was nothing short of extraordinary so it fit. Beckett calling only meant one thing - there was fresh blood (so to speak).

Oh how he wished he could make himself stretch his arm to reach that blasted phone lying on his bedside table. To shut the damn thing up if nothing else. Come on Castle, it's like thirty centimetres away. This is pathetic even for you.

Just as he gathered enough momentum to reach the phone it stopped. "Typical." Well at least it's stopped. As soon as that thought had passed his clouded mind, his phone beeped.

"Guess I should check that." He muttered to himself. "Don't want to give Beckett a reason to ring again." He was surprised at the harsh, grating sound of his voice. It sounded like he hadn't spoken for weeks on end. I really should stop talking, it's bloody painful.

He was a little alarmed to see that he had missed three calls from his partner.

All he wanted to do was to go back to sleep. He didn't know what would be worse; ringing her and having to speak, or trying to get his fingers working to send a message. Neither sounded appealing. But he did not want that phone to ring again so he decided to send a short text.

He yawned, placing the phone down with careless abandon. He fleetingly thought about how wonderful it would be if his phone accidentally "broke" so he wouldn't be disturbed. He felt his eyes close, allowing himself the rest that his body needed to heal.

 

*C&B*

 

"What have we got?" Beckett asked Esposito wearily. She needed that coffee. Now. Come on Castle. Where are you? You better not be with some flooze. An inexplicable shudder ran through her, and it had nothing to do with the chill in the air.

Esposito narrowed his eyes in suspicion but carried on regardless. "Female. Early twenties. Jane Doe."

"Cause of death?"

"Three stab wounds to the chest." The medical examiner replied.

Kate barely managed to suppress a gasp at the sound of Lanie's voice. She knew it was irrational, she was half asleep when that had happened. And Lanie would have no idea about Beckett's inner turmoil. But still, she could not get that conversation out of her mind.

"You okay honey?"

"Yeah I'm fine Lanie." Kate replied automatically. "So stab wounds huh? What about that trauma to the head?" She asked, staring at the dried clumps of blood that had formed on the poor girl's forehead.

"Mostly superficial. Would have done some damage sure, but not enough to kill her."

"A sexual assault?" She asked Ryan as she fully absorbed the evidence around the victim. She knew she wasn't supposed to get emotionally involved with the cases, but she did every single time. And that is what made her such a fine detective. She had a feeling this was going to be just as emotionally draining as the one they just put to bed.

Ryan shrugged. "Hard to say. Lanie?"

"Sure looks like it, as there's some bruising on her inner thighs but we'll have to wait til I can properly examine her. I'll tell you one thing though, she put up one helluva fight. There's some blood and skin scrapings in her fingernails."

"Well good on her. I like it when they fight back and dish it out to the jackass."

Her three friends nodded in agreement. They knew that if Beckett ever found herself in this kind of position she would not give in. No freaking way.

Lanie could see the dark circles under her best friend's eyes. Girl, your bags have bags. You ain't taking proper care of yourself honey. Imma gonna slap you. And Imma kill Castle. He's not looking after my girl. But then again, she knew how stubborn Kate was and how near impossible it was for anyone to break down that fortress she had built around herself. Castle was getting so close to breaking down that last wall. Speaking of Castle...

"Where's Writer-Boy?"

Beckett shrugged. "Who knows Lanie? I've called him four or five times already." She couldn't seem to shake an irrational fear that something had happened to her Castle.

"Hmm unlike Castle to miss out on the action. Ain't that right bro?"

Ryan nodded in complete agreement. "Didn't get a better offer did he?"

Kate glared at him, unable to filter out that jealousy that got the better of her when she thought of Castle with another woman. If she wasn't so tired she may have been able to conceal it. Might have.

"Yo dumb thing to say bro."

Kate's phone went off at that moment, indicating that she had received a message. When she saw that it was from Castle a small smile escaped the corners of her mouth. A sense of relief flowed through her, he was okay. Not that she really thought anything had happened to him...

What she read though soon turned that smile into a frown. "Can't make it. Mite c u l8er. :'("

He never uses text speak. Never. Can't stand to see the English language destroyed like that. She mused, that relief she felt seconds ago dissipating quickly. He does have a point. It looks hideous.

"What's wrong honey?"

"Oh nothing. Castle can't make it."

"Ah." Lanie replied knowingly.

"What?" Beckett rolled her eyes, feeling red creep into her cheeks.

"Oh nothin girl." Lanie smirked. "Come on, let's get this poor girl down to the morgue."

She whipped out the qwerty keypad of her phone. She really didn't know what to type. The last thing she wanted to do was sound like a worried girlfriend. Cos I'm not his freaking girlfriend.

Eventually she settled with "You better bring me a coffee and bearclaw right now Castle or I'm gonna shoot you... You okay?"

She expected an instant reply. Castle always had his phone on him.

She didn't get one.

 

*C&B*

 

Beep beep. Beep beep.

That phone had woken him again. Why can't they leave me alone? Castle inwardly whined. I'm dying here.

He blindly reached for his iphone, shuddering at the loss of warmth.

"You better bring me a coffee and bearclaw right now Castle or I'm gonna shoot you... You okay?"

"Oh Kate." He rasped, "There's no chance in hell of me leaving this bed." And I would love it if you were here to look after me. "Yeah, like that's gonna happen."

Oh he desperately wanted to not only come up with a witty repartee but needed her to nurse him back to health. Sadly, he didn't think he'd get either. Still, he didn't want to feel her fiery wrath...

"Not gonna b possible KB. Sorry. :'("

 

*C&B*

 

Kate stared at the empty chair beside her desk. His chair. How was it possible that she was missing him so much today? Perhaps cos you need him. He's the only one who can put a smile on your face when you're this cranky. Perhaps cos you lo-

Castle's name appeared on her phone. The man can read minds now? She grinned.

"Not gonna b possible KB. Sorry. :'("

"But Castle I need my coffee." She sighed, trying to kerb that rapidly rising concern about his wellbeing. What's wrong Rick? She wondered. And this time her word filter lost out in her response.

"You alright Castle? I'm worried about you." Oh hell Katherine, what on earth did you tell him that for?

This time the reply was almost immediate. "I'm ok... feeling like shit but it's all good."

He's sick? He's never sick.long day.

 

*C&B*

 

Knock. Knock. Knock.

Rick desperately hoped that Martha or Alexis were home. There was no chance that he was going to answer the door.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

Come on mother, Alexis. Don't make me get out of this bed. He began to prepare himself for the long journey from his room to the front door.

He could hear faint voices coming from downstairs. He put his head back down on his soft pillows in immense relief. "Thank you God."

 

*C&B*

 

She stood outside the loft's entrance nervously. Did she do the right thing by coming here?

"Kate! What a lovely surprise! Do come in!" Martha exclaimed, immersing the young woman in her arms. "How are you dear?" She closely observed the detective. "You look tired darling."

"Fine thank you Martha." Kate replied. "Is Castle here?"

Martha shrugged, her face portraying confusion. "I don't know dear. I haven't seen him all day. I thought he was with you."

Kate's niggling worry for her partner intensified. He must be sick if he hasn't even hammed it up for all it's worth. "No, I haven't seem him either."

Martha looked alarmed at this.

Kate shook her head upon seeing the look on Martha's face. "No it's nothing to be worried about. I've heard from him. He reckons he's sick."

"Ah I see." The relief on the older woman's face was evident.

"Do you think I... could... would... would it be..."

Martha smiled at the younger woman's hesitation. It wasn't often that anyone saw anything other than a confident and strong-willed Katherine Beckett. To see her resemble a shy, lovesick young girl was strange. Refreshing, but strange nonetheless. She nodded knowingly. You're head over heels for my Richard young lady.

"Of course my dear. I'm sure he'll be thrilled to see you."

 

*C&B*

 

She gently knocked on the door. It was not the forthright knock that she was accustomed to hearing. This door lead to the bedroom of the one and only Rick Castle. Her partner, her best friend. Something more? Damn I hope so. One day.

Behind this door was a room she had never, ever, thought that she'd cross its threshold. Only in her wildest dreams did she allow this to enter her subconscious.

"Castle?" She almost whispered, tiptoeing into the darkened room.

She smiled at the sight before her. He was huddled up under the soft, thick covers. He had pulled the blankets over his head, it was like he was trying not to let any of the warmth escape.

She slowly walked over towards the bed. She wasn't sure what to do, but for once allowed herself to follow her heart's desires. She carefully sat down beside him, her hand moving to pull the covers away from his face.

Her heart melted at the sight of his sleeping face. How is it that he looks even more youthful when he's sleeping? She wondered in awe. "Maybe it's time I listened to you Lanie." She breathed, moving a stray strand of his hair away from his face. Her other hand moved to check his temperature. She almost recoiled at the heat radiating from him.

"Maybe it's time to listen to my heart."

To hell with it. She placed a gentle kiss on his forehead.

He stirred then. Kate froze. Oh shit, I'm caught. He's going to have a field day with this!

His eyes fluttered open. Oh Rick. She hated seeing him like this; his eyes were puffy and watery and he was glistening with sweat. Yep, he was sick alright. Well duh Kate, he's got a freaking fever. This was almost more frightening than the freezer incident. Almost.

"Beckett?" He rasped, his eyes widening in surprise. "No way, I'm dreaming."

She chuckled softly. "You're not dreaming Castle." But maybe I am.

"You mean you're here?" He asked in that hoarse voice. He sounds terrible.

"Yeah I'm here. I just wanted to check you weren't dying or anything. And I want my coffee."

He tried to laugh, but all that came out was a nasty cough. "Rest assured Detective. You'll get your coffee, just maybe not right now okay?

"Okay." She replied begrudgingly. Now who sounds like the nine year old?

"I'll be fine. Just feeling sorry for myself right now."

"I'm sure you will be."

His hazy eyes finally managed to penetrate hers. Even in his condition he could still mesmorise her with those eyes, captivating her very soul. "I'm glad you're here Kate."

She blushed, desperately hoping that he wouldn't notice. Sick Castle was different. It was a nice change to see him like this - more normal or something - as much as she hated the fact that he was suffering.

"Come 'ere." He patted the space beside him.

She just stared at him as if he had grown an extra head.

"Come on, I won't bite... much."

She grinned. "Don't make promises you can't keep Castle."

"Never."

Oh bugger it. She thought, although deep down she knew she was never going to refuse him. Not on this. Hell, she was beyond exhausted and just wanted to sleep. Sure that's what it is Katherine. Just keep telling yourself that and maybe you'll believe it.

"Kate? You okay?"

"I'm the one who should be asking that, not you." Typical Castle. Always more worried about me than himself. She kicked her shoes off and slowly laid down beside him.

He securely wrapped an arm around her waist. "Scared you'll get sick?" He whispered in her ear.

She turned around to face him, feeling the most content she had felt in some time. "I'll take the risk."

There was silence for several minutes. Kate thought that he had gone back to sleep, and felt her own eyes grow heavy. Suddenly she heard, "Thank you, for being here."

She smiled sleepily. "Always." She mumbled as she felt sleep claim her.

 

The end.